West Side Missionary Baptist Church Honored for Role in No Coal Campaign

West Side Missionary Baptist Church and its pastor, Rev. Ken Chambers, were honored for their outstanding contributions to the No Coal in Oakland campaign at California Interfaith Power & Light’s 10th annual awards ceremony on November 15.  CIPL is an interfaith group responding to climate change, with members from Islamic, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist, Unitarian, and many other spiritual traditions.  At this year’s annual awards ceremony, attendees shared food, offered prayers, and celebrated climate care and advocacy work being done by congregations all over California from Humboldt County to El Cajon.

Awardees Rev. Ken Chambers of West Side Missionary Baptist Church; Venerable Anandabodhi and Venerable Santacitta from Aloka Vihara Forest Monastery.  Photo: CIPL

Speakers at CIPL’s Cool Climate Awards ceremony encouraged attendees to deepen their commitment to environmental justice by becoming more engaged, especially at the local level, where important climate policy and green job victories are possible. Focus on faith communities’ moral responsibility to raise consciousness about threats to the common good and to practice care for local and global neighbors was a common theme throughout the evening.  Many attendees expressed appreciation for the opportunity at this difficult historic moment to acknowledge each other’s achievements and shared commitment to continue protecting the environment.

Highlights of the event were the video and words of Rev. Ken Chambers, pastor of West Side Missionary Baptist Church, which played a key role in No Coal in Oakland. This congregation, along with numerous allied faith communities and organizations, engaged in an historic two-year struggle that ultimately defeated a proposal to bring coal from Utah into an export terminal in Oakland. The defeat of this project was more than just one regional success; it epitomized the local and global demand for climate justice and a just transition to clean energy.


Rev. Ken Chambers speaking at the June 25, 2016 rally just two days before the Oakland City Council’s historic vote to ban coal.  Photo: Brooke Anderson

West Side Missionary and many other East Bay CIPL member congregations are continuing to work together for green jobs and climate resilient communities. In accepting the award for Climate Advocacy, Rev. Chambers stated, “West Side Baptist Church was a vessel to be used but the campaign would not have happened without everyone that played a part.” Referencing the broadly shared feelings of post-election uncertainty, he added, “In lieu of our present, political dynamics, if we ever worked together before, we surely must work together now.”

The Cool Climate Awards began with the sharing of a Sioux prayer offered in support of Standing Rock by Rev. Dr. Ambrose Carroll of Church by the Side of the Road in Berkeley and founder of Green the Church. Emcee the Hon. Doug Linney, national IPL Board member, facilitated the presentation of awards to congregations for their work in Green Building, Climate Advocacy, Climate Education, Energy Efficiency and Conservation. This year’s awards also included a Climate Luminary and Green Retreat Center. Honorees came from diverse faith traditions and from all over California. Presenters of the awards included CIPL Steering Committee members Rabbi Marvin Goodman, Executive Director of the Northern California Board of Rabbis; Juana Torres of the Sierra Club and volunteer with the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles; and G.L. Hodge, co-chair of the San Francisco Interfaith Council.

You can find out more about this year’s other Cool Climate awardees on CIPL’s website here.